ATM/DIY

ATM & other do it yourself projects

Solargraph in operation…

Got a few Solargraphs loaded last light (Wednesday 20th June), just in time for today’s Summer Solstice.

Attached mine to it’s usual place on the back of the house (facing SSE), before heading off for an evening walk with two under my arm to deliver to Andy (he beat me to the blog entry – see below)!

Andy has one of the new style cans to try – donated by Ed who has a fine taste of coffee (Azeri / Lavazza – I also like this version). I did make the extra effort to drill a bigger hole in the can, then fix tin foil over it and then pin a fine hole through that. The only ‘issue’ with these cans is that I only get three sheets out of a big sheet of B&W photographic paper, whereas I get 6 when cutting for a standard baked bean can.

Good job as well that it was set up ready for this morning – today was pretty good and should have set a fine ‘upper limit’ on the paper for when we open the  can up and take a look after December 21st…

This morning, in action (around 8.15am) !

Damian

Solargraphs, from Summer>Winter 2017

Just started to refurbish last years units ready for the coming solstice… soon comes around, hey!

Hope to have some ready for purchase at the next RAG (month end) meeting….

Now I don’t have a scanner (via work!), I popped in to see Andy last evening to get the outstanding ones scanned and so sorted.

Good fun to try different process techniques (I use Photoshop, but as Andy showed earlier using GIMP (free), it’s very much ‘Science – meets – Art’ !

 

So Andy’s – 2 versions…

 

My father in laws (from Barton Under Needwood)…

 

and lastly my sister’s (also from Barton Under Needwood – she has just moved, so her next will be a different view)…

 

Damian

Various Astro, Space and Sci-Fi related pieces of interest… oh, and Neil Armstrong!

Not posted recently, so here are a selection of pics I’ve been collecting that I thought would make an interesting contribution…

So to start, an update on my Lego Saturn V Christmas present. Andy has been helping ad-hoc as well!

Completing the second stage…

Very cleverly designed…

Once finished it should stand a metre tall! There is a ‘link’ back to the Saturn V / moon, later on…

Next, a picture of our magnolia in full bloom… “Stellata” (meaning star), taken at 6.55pm on Wednesday 18th April…

Later on, a beautiful crescent moon and the ‘Evening Star’, Venus – Julie and I were out for an evening walk. Taken on an iPhone 6 at 8.38pm.

Then another, a tad later at two minutes past 9… nearly home…

Next is a picture of the moon taken through a 13mm Ethos eyepiece attached to my TEC140-ED APO refractor – just hand held with the iPhone held up to the eyepiece. This was from Friday 20th April, whilst waiting for Andy to turn up (his observing report can be found somewhere on here!)

Oh, and a picture of me setting up the gear (didn’t know Jules was hanging out of the bedroom window taking this…), I think I’m in the throws of setting up a WiFi connection from the Nexus device (that reads the mount’s encoders) to the iPad Air 2 (that runs Sky Safari Pro 5).

Here is a process of a friend’s Solargraph we made for them ready for the summer 2017 Solstice – it stayed in place ’til the winter Solstice and they passed it back for processing in early April…

Raw scan (that Andy kindly did for me).

And the processed version! We’re not sure what the bright squiggly line is!

Next we jump to the RAG meeting from Friday 27th April – featuring guest speaker Paul Money (part 2 talk about the Voyager probes and their journey to the gas giants and beyond)… captured in ‘full flow’!

Next a picture from another evening walk, a lovely sunset with the three spires of Lichfield Cathedral and St. Mary’s Church (in the town centre)… Monday 30th April at 8.18pm.

Julie is a French and German teacher… she told me on this walk that tonight was “Walpurgis Nacht”, the night when animals can talk, see the link below:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walpurgis_Night

On the 1st May, in the old calendar, it was also the start of summer… you wouldn’t know it though with the weather this last week… we’ve even had to put the central heating back on in the evenings!

…and another from Wednesday at 9.02pm… the Cathedral from Stowe Pool.

…and later still, at 9.30, Venus shining brightly…

Now some of you may be aware that my post was made redundant at MandM back in February. Well I’m now back in full time work as the photographer at Richard Winterton Auctioneers (Richard is on telly quite a bit if the name rings a bell), based in Fradley. So far I’ve photographed medals, coins, furniture, art, ‘military’, toys, silverware and jewellery.

But we’ve also had some other interesting ‘lots’ come in which are being prepared for future sales…

How about this…

A full sized Dalek and yes you can sit inside and move him along!!! He needs a bit of TLC. This is a little Photoshop work I’ve done on him for our social media feeds (the Andromeda Galaxy background is my own from some years ago!)

We also have going under the hammer this retro playsuit based on the original ‘TV Serial’.. I wonder if some of our older members remember wanting or even having this ! 😀

Lastly, on a far more serious note… take a look at this letter which came in to be valued and put up for sale!

Note the early NASA logo, date (only a few days since getting back from the moon) and of course the signature!

Hope you enjoyed this rather varied blog entry!

Damian

 

 

 

 

Solar Array

Today allowed me to finally get my Solar array set up. After several attempts at balancing and positioning all the components and making modifications I was able to set up all 3 scopes in a balanced configuration.

Then using the Kendrick Solar finder on the central scope (Evostar 120) and setting the tracking to solar rate I then adjusted the alignment of the ST 102 and the PST, so that all 3 scopes showed full disk of sun in centre of field of view.

The idea is that:

the central scope will give white light images of the sun using a Herschel wedge with an ND3 filter.

the smaller ST102 refractor will give CaK images using a Herschel wedge without any filter and imaged with DMK41 mono ccd camera with Baader Calcium K filter fitted.

the PST will give H alpha images.

Today I was only using set up visually , to align scopes, so I used filtered Herschel wedge in the Evostar 120, a baader Solar film on front of ST 102 and the PST was used as normal. There were no sunspots visible and in H alpha a noticeable prominence at 4/5 o-clock position as registered by Roger this morning, no other prominences visible, nor was there much surface detail. No CaK detail as was not using camera, the sun was very variable , but there were enough bright spells this afternoon between 2 and 4pm to allow the alignment of all three scopes.

The mount was constructed with a piece of 10mm thick Aluminium bar 10cm wide and 35 cm long attached to upper side of lower vixen bar via two M6 bolts.

Two vixen bars were then attached to upper surface of Aluminium bar via M6 bolts, two sets of ADM mounting rings of suitable size were then clamped onto these vixen bars.

(ADM rings and vixen bars from First Light Optics.)

By adjusting screws in Rings I was able to align both scopes to get full disk in centre field of view, to remove scopes the top adjusting screw only in each ring is taken out, so when  scopes placed back in , tightening this screw only should put them back in aligned position, all bar a slight tweak.

To ensure the system was balanced about the axis running along the length of the Evostar, extra masses were added under the PST, these were attached via an M10 bolt with head removed and centre tapped with M6 thread, then attached to vixen bar with M6 screw head bolt through Vixen bar and M10 bolt to hold masses in place., this can be seen on photo below with scopes removed from rings.

By experiment on table top , approx. 1.5Kg was required on PST side to balance rig, brought 4 small masses from Astro Buy & sell, and drilled out centres to fit bolt. All we want now are some clear skies and sunspots!!

Thanks to Lee for advice on design and initial drilling and tapping of holes / threads.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LOMO Biolam Microscope restoration.

As you’ll have gathered, Andy got me an old LOMO Biolam microscope for Christmas. Included in the sale were an assortment of extras ‘upgrades’ (all in their own wooden boxes) to the original base unit (most I don’t think have ever been used), including a binocular head with a pair of x7 and x10 eyepieces.

Being 41 years old, it needed some TLC – the main issue being the infamous ‘Russian Tank Grease’ originally used!

You can tell it’s age as the serial number contains it’s year of manufacture – just like Takahashi do, so the ’77’ is 1977.

This instrument is still a ‘LOMO’ version, later, it was also made and marketed under the Zenith brand (we used their cameras at art college!)

Over time, this grease has solidified (think your bonfire toffee apples), so most things that were supposed to move were either very stiff or just plain stuck.

Not being very ‘DIY’, I’ve spent the last few weeks tentatively stripping it down and soaking various parts in white spirit and WD40.

 

Andy came round just after Christmas and we had ‘first light’ – this image is of a Lilly Ovary, iPhone 6 held up to the 10x eyepiece in the Binocular attachment (adds 1.5x mag) and a 20x objective (so 300x)

It was pretty tricky to achieve focus as the main (coarse focuser) was lumpy and the fine focus unit inoperable….

The microscope (thankfully) turned out to be pretty easy to take apart.

Below, the main/coarse focus unit (after spending a week in a bath of white spirit). Brushed clean with my old tooth brush and re-greased with a modern silicon alternative.

 

Image below – bottom of the ‘stage base’ – the bit where you place your slide (‘rotating stage’ also stuck!) This shows the silver-grey fine focuser mounted on the side.

Most of the microscope is cast metal and brass. The only plastic part was this strip of gearing for the condenser (the unit that focuses the light source onto the slide/specimen). The two screws though caught me out – the top being countersunk and the lower a pan-head!

The brass is ‘pre-polished’….

Below images (x2) – back of same ‘stage’ part….

…..and with gearing removed….

The biggest issue was the fine focuser. The actual unit is self contained, like the inside of a watch and ‘runs- dry’ – so no grease. Whilst it worked on it’s own, I could not get the fine focus to work once everything was reassembled…

The large metal pin (above) sits in that circular recess shown below in the middle of that brass piece. Inside the main cavity sits the fine focuser which mates to the fine focus gearing/knob just seen in the shadow right at the back.

It turned out that the brass part (with circular recess) is supposed to freely move up and down with a turn of the fine focuser…

….the movement dampened by a large spring that sits inside this circular recess on the other side (top). The spring is held in place under tension by the serial number ‘date’ cover shown earlier.

 

Once we had worked out how this works Andy………. hit it…… (carefully) with a hammer….(!!!) after judisious use of WD40. That freed the brass dovetail allowing cleaning, polishing and re-greasing…

41 years of grease (finally) removed !

Amazing what a bit of Brass can do!

Once all back together everything finally worked!

 

Andy headed off and I finished polishing up the chrome objective head and attaching the X/Y upgrade to the stage.

Later in the evening I popped over to Andy’s to try the microscope out. I still have the condenser upgrade to sort (Russian tank grease again) and then sort an LED / Halogen illuminator to replace the 15w bulb version (itself an upgrade over the supplied mirror).

 

Andy’s calibration slide – each line is 0.01mm apart.

 

The moon….?

 

ET’s hand !

 

Damian

 

Solargraph – worked… (sort of)!

Six months has flown by….

Time to collect the solargraph we ‘planted’…

 

Yes, a few days early to be collecting, but today is my last one in the office and I wasn’t thinking of doing a 124 mile round trip to collect from Leominster on the shortest day!

What a lovely start to the day, a slippy stile and muddy walk!

If you remember from the last post, the first attempt had been damaged – probably due to the shiny  ‘foil’ pinhole being pecked out by an interested magpie!

2x previous photos of new solargraph in situ…(Above and below)

The site from Google Maps:

Kimbolton Church (Nr. Leominster) is in the centre. The solar graph is sited in that first tree-line (towards 10/11 o’clock), looking back to the church – thought it would make a nice view/foreground…

This time, we had forgone the foil (you pin-prick it to get a fine hole and therefore sharper image recorded) and instead drilled (No 1 drill bit), straight into the tin. No bird was going to get through that!!

Would this one fair better…?

This was it’s rough view as seen this morning upon collection at 8.45am….

First impressions were good… the baked bean can pinhole camera looked to have survived it’s six months and was in remarkably good condition with hardly any rust – sheltered under the trees.

Back at the office, second impressions were of an unremarkable small image and some image shift (double exposure)…. look how the church is double exposed on the original below….      ;-(

 

I don’t think it was ‘vandalised’ if it had, it would have been ripped out and strewn across the hedgerow… ‘Mother Nature’…. perhaps…? More likely a horse or sheep rubbing up against the stake (or wire fence) – although I did try and protect it somewhat…

(Above: Initial scan – 900DPI, Colour-Millions, mirror reversed on the horizontal plane, cropped).

 

If this hasn’t worked, that’s 18 months from the first try (summer>winter 2016) – I didn’t have another pinhole camera prepared after the first go to put imediately back in place, so waited until this summer solstice in 2017 to try again.

Again, I didn’t have another prepared to start again this morning either, so another camera would have to wait until summer 2018….

 

But….

 

With a little Photoshop magic, it’s amazing what can be achieved!

Phew  😉

So, KIMBOLTON CHURCH SOLARGRAPH Summer > Winter 2017

For January’s RAG end-month meeting, I’ll bring the laptop, scanner, etc. So if you tried your own solargraph and want some help processing it, bring it along and we can have a play!

If you want to preserve yours until then, I suggest you remove from the tin, ***dry completely with a hairdryer*** and then put nice and flat inside an envelope (or two) out of direct light.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas!

 

Damian

Be afraid, be very afraid!!! – Baader 8-24 Zoom lens stripdown

Hi folks

Some of you may remember that I picked up a Baader 8-24 zoom lens from Astrofest a couple of years ago for £60. It was complete but the mechanism was a bit crunchy and sticking. Eventually it packed up completely. This left me with two choices, abandon it, or to attempt a very complicated and almost impossible rebuild.

Anyone who knows me would guess that I went for the second option!! So, heart in mouth, I went for it

I would immediately stress that, unless you are very technical, or completely mad (like me), **** DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS ****. There are lots of tiny screws, lenses and spacers and plenty of grease.

The problem I found was that there are three rollers/ guides that run in a helical groove. See the screwhead to the left of the 20 in the first picture. If you look at the second picture you can see there is no roller. The screw of that, and the third roller , had sheared. These screws are tiny M1.8 x 4mm screws.

This is where the fun part/ insanity started, as I had to either extract the sheared screws or drill them out with a 1.3mm drill. It wasn’t possible to extract them so I had do some very nervous and careful drilling. This also involved a complete stripdown to clean everything. I mentioned plenty of grease … it was everywhere!!!

I gave everything a good clean and (eventually) got it all back together, and IT WORKED!! Yayyyy . I now have two working zoom lenses

Image intensifier photographs from observing session 17-18/11/2017 (home-made image intensified eyepiece, Samsung S7 phone, Orion UK 10″ Dobsonian, Lichfield)

The following photographs were taken during the observing session at LRO, Lichfield, UK, by Andrew and Damian 17-18/11/2017. Photographs were taken from views through our two 10″ Orion Dobsonian Telescopes, using our home-made (ATM) image intensified eyepieces and my Samsung S7 smart phone hand held at the eyepiece end of the image intensified eyepiece.

The home made image intensified eyepieces were made using old 2nd world war image intensifier tubes purchased from ebay for £50 each a few years ago. They give good views although suffer from significant image distortion towards the edge. However, they represent excellent value for money and provide a quite different way of observing the night sky. Although technically what you see through these image intensified eyepieces is not a direct view of the night sky but instead an electronic image, they give an excellent “through the eyepiece” experience because of where they are located (in the focuser) and the intimate experience of observer and telescope is therefore retained, albeit with a green view!

Andy & Damian

Andromeda-Galaxy-Satellite-M31 & M32-Image-intensified-eyepiece-10-in-Dob-17-181117.jpg (below):

Christmas-Tree-Open-Cluster-NGC2264-Image-intensified-eyepiece-10-in-Dob-17-181117.jpg (below):

Crab-Nebula-M1-Image-intensified-eyepiece-10-in-Dob-17-181117.jpg (below):

Eskimo-Plantary-Nebula-NGC2392-Image-intensified-eyepiece-10-in-Dob-181117.jpg (below):

Galaxies-M81-M82-image-intensified-eyepiece-10-in-Dob-17-181117.jpg (below):

Hubble-variable-nebula-NGC2261-Image-intensified-eyepiece-10-in-Dob-181117.jpg (below):

Open-clusters-M35-NGC2158-image-intensified-eyepiece-10-in-Dob-17-181117.jpg (below):

Orion-Nebula-M42-image-intensified-eyepiece-10-in-Dob-17-181117.jpg (below):

Pleiades-Open-Cluster-M45-image-intensified-eyepiece-10-in-Dob-17-181117.jpg (below):

Scale for focussing tube

Hi, it’s useful to know the focussing position especially when imaging and using different combinations of filters/ lenses with the camera, although my sky watcher 120 Evostar has a graduated Crayford focuser, the newly acquired ST102 doesn’t, so rather than replace the rack & pinion focuser with a calibrated Crayford I managed to source some transparent adhesive scale tape, which I have attached to barrel, after cleaning the area with some isopropyl alcohol, its still on but have yet to put it to use. The tape was relatively cheap, and I do have an excess of repeating 40cm lengths, so if any one fancies adding a scale to their focussing tube get in contact.

 

Pete Hill